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Billy Gil graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has worked for People and Daily Variety. He is the editor of the Pipeline section and IndieFile, both of which highlight independent films on DVD. For IndieFile tips and inquiries, email bgil@questex.com. For inclusion on IndieFile's Feedroom channel, contact Renee Rosado (rrosado@questex.com). Follow IndieFile on Twitter, at Twitter.com/IndieFile.


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23 Jul, 2009

QFest Winners Announced

Philadelphia QFest ended its 15th year by premiering The Big Gay Musical and announcing the winners of its awards at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia.

The twelve-day festival this year marked the emergence of a new name (it was formerly called the Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival) and the expansion of the festival’s screenings to more theaters.
 
QFest Jury Awards were given to Patrik 1,5 (Best Feature), Off and Running (Best Documentary), Nancy Kassim (First Time Director, Drool), Awakening (Best Short Film). Audience Awards were given to Hannah Free (Best Feature), Pop Star on Ice (Best Documentary) and Looking For… (Best Short Film).
 
Celebrities at the festivities included Johnny Weir, Sharon Gless, H.P. Mendozza, Mink Stole and Chad Allen. Gless received the Gay Icon Award at the screening of Hannah Free, in which she starred.

Congrats to all the winners!

By: Billy Gil


22 Jul, 2009

‘Sügisball’ (Autumn Ball) Moves to DVD

Street Date: 9/22
Prebook Date: 8/25
Studio: Strand Releasing
SRP/Format: $27.99 DVD
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Sügisball is a multicharacter drama/black comedy that concerns characters in an apartment building attempting to overcome isolation in Soviet-era Estonia. Veiko Õunpuu’s feature debut has won much recognition at European film festivals. It’s about as bleak as it gets, but it’s also visually arresting and memorable. Plus, Estonian sounds really cool.

WARNING: TRAILER HAS CONTENT OF A SEXUAL AND VIOLENT NATURE.

In Estonian with English subtitles.

By: Billy Gil


21 Jul, 2009

Romero’s ‘Survival of the Dead’ to Premiere at Toronto

George A. Romero’s next horror opus will be called George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead and will premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival as part of its “Midnight Madness” series, spotlighting the ten best new international horror movies.

I suppose that’s better than Blank of the Dead, which is what he’s been calling it.
 
“We’re overjoyed to welcome George back into the dark hallowed halls of Midnight Madness,” says Colin Geddes, international programmer of the festival. “And on a personal note, it’s a thrill for my inner 10-year-old, who rolled pennies to buy a VHS copy of Night of the Living Dead.”
 
The movie concerns a band of soldiers on a remote island that promises paradise — but delivers zombies.
 
“We’re in the final stages of post-production and it’s great to come up for air and find out the film’s been chosen to appear at the Festival,” Romero says. “It’s just a terrific honor.”

No, George, we’re the ones honored.

Hurrah, more zombies!

By: Billy Gil


20 Jul, 2009

'Easy Virtue' Unveils on Disc

Street Date: 9/15

Prebook Date: 8/13

Studio: Sony Pictures

SRP/Format: $28.96 DVD/$39.95 BD

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Set in post-World War I England, Easy Virtue concerns a British playboy (Ben Barnes) who marries a modernistic racecar driver (Jessica Biel) and brings her home to his stuffy, aristocratic family. Easy Virtue is directed and co-written by Stephan Elliott, adapted from Cole Porter's play. Special features include a commentary by director Elliot and co-writer Sheridan Jobbins, deleted scenes and a blooper reel. I haven't yet seen Easy Virtue, but it seems like a bloody good time with a lot of actors doing what they do best — Kristen Scott Thomas playing the frigid mother, Colin Firth as the terribly snarky father and Jessica Biel, well, being hot and provocative.

By: Billy Gil


17 Jul, 2009

Criterion Announces October Slate

Criterion continues its record of excellence with Blu-ray debuts as well as some new DVDs of major works from by the filmmakers Costa-Gavras (Z), Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) and James Ivory (Howards End), the latter of which won first place in a poll for which Criterion film viewers most wanted on Blu-ray Disc. The discs feature new high-definition transfers.

Monsoon Wedding
Street Date: 10/20
Prebook Date: 9/15
SRP/Format: $39.95 DVD or BD


Mira Nair’s Indian wedding comedy comes in a restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director Mira Nair and director of photography Declan Quinn. The discs feature a commentary with Nair; short documentaries and short features by Nair; a new video interview with actor Naseeruddin Shah, conducted by Nair; new video interviews with Quinn and production designer Stephanie Carroll; a new and improved English subtitle translation; and an essay by critic and travel writer Pico Iyer.

Wings of Desire
Street Date: 11/3
Prebook Date: 9/22
SRP/Format: $39.95 DVD or BD


Wim Wenders’ film about an angel who gives up his immortality to be with a woman comes in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Wenders. The discs include a commentary with Wenders and actor Peter Falk, a documentary on the film, exerpts from a French television program, an interview with director of photography Henri Alekan, deleted scenes and outtakes, excerpts from related films, notes and photos by production designer Heidi Lüdi and art director Toni Lüdi, a new and improved English subtitle translation, and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson and writings by Wenders and screenwriter Peter Handke.

Howards End
Street Date: 11/3
Prebook Date: 9/22
SRP/Format: $39.95 BD

Director James Ivory’s version of E. M. Forster’s 1910 novel about class divisions in Edwardian England, starring Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave, comes in a high-definition digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Tony Pierce-Roberts. The Blu-ray includes a featurette on late producer Ismail Merchant by director James Ivory, several making-of featurettes and an essay by critic Kenneth Turan.

Z
Street Date: 10/27
Prebook Date: 9/29
SRP/Format: $39.95 BD


Costa-Gavras’s political thriller comes in a high-definition digital transfer, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard. The Blu-ray includes a commentary featuring film historian Peter Cowie; new interviews with Costa-Gavras and Coutard; archival interviews with the cast, crew and Vassilis Vassilikos, author of the book Z; a new and improved English subtitle translation; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Armond White.

In addition, Criterion’s Eclipse line present in October will release three films by Yugoslavian director Dusan Makavejev. He’s known for scandalous political comedies WR: Mysteries of the Organism and Sweet Movie, and the new releases encompass his three films, which look at Communist Yugoslavia in the 1960s.

Eclipse Series 18: Dusan Makavejev Free Radical
Street Date: 10/13
Prebook Date: 9/15
SRP/Format: $44.95 DVD

By: Billy Gil


16 Jul, 2009

Palisades Tartan Slices Out ‘The Butcher’

Street Date: 10/27

Prebook Date: 9/29

SRP/Format: $19.99 DVD

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Anyone who’s seen The Host needs no convincing that Korean horror movies can be incredible. Palisades Tartan is releasing a new Korean horror film around Halloween: The Butcher. The film is shot entirely using POV camera shots, akin to The Blair Witch Project, which incidentally just celebrated its 10th anniversary — does that make anyone else feel old?
 
The story is typically gory: A group of people wake up bloody and kidnapped by crazed producers who plan to torture and kill them to film it make a snuff film. Each shot is taken from either the killer’s or victim’s point of view.

It’s an official selection of The New York Asian Film Festival. It’s also safe to say I won’t watch it as I am entirely too chicken since my Blair Witch days, but it sounds unique and very bloody.

WARNING: THIS TRAILER IS EXTREMELY GORY AND IS NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS.
 

 

By: Billy Gil


15 Jul, 2009

Philadelphia QFest Reveals TBA Films

Philadelphia QFest, Philadelphia’s gay film festival, today announced the three features for its popular TBA slots. Out in Philly – Season 3, Make the Yuletide Gay and Shank have been picked to screen Monday, July 20. And Make the Yuletide Gay also is coming to DVD Dec. 6 (prebook Nov. 8) at $19.99, from TLA Releasing.

Out in Philly – Season 3 comprises shorts by queer filmmakers from the Philly. Actors and directors will be on hand for the screening, including Kelly Burkhardt. The program screens at 7 p.m. at the Ritz East 1.

Make the Yuletide Gay covers family and young gay love. It screens at 9:15.

Shank is a British urban street drama and screens at 9:30 p.m. at the Ritz East 2.

Carol Coombes, associate artistic Director of QFest, had this to say: “We listen to you, our audience, and fast off the starting block our first weekend were the high votes and positive feedback [for these features]. Catch them all again (with the filmmakers!!) on the evening of Monday July 20th at the Ritz East!”
 
The fest also revealed its Surprise Screening: Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat, scheduled for its debut at the Prince Music Theater on Sunday July 19 at 7:00pm. If you saw guilty pleasure Eating Out 2, I’m sure the third installment will be just as campy and fun.
 

By: Billy Gil


15 Jul, 2009

The Indie Fest Issues Call for Entries

Virtual film festival The Indie Fest is calling for submissions. The deadline is July 31.
 
There are no physical screenings at The Indie Fest. Winners receive publicity via press releases sent to more than 28,000 filmmakers and industry insiders, according to fest organizers. Entries are said to be judged without regard to budget. 

Awards include Best of Show, Award of Excellence and Award of Merit. Entry form and rules can be found at www.TheIndieFest.com.

By: Billy Gil


14 Jul, 2009

Selma Blair Talks Playing Junkie Mom in ‘The Poker House’

I’ll come out and say it: Selma Blair is one of my favorite modern actresses. She doesn’t act as much as emote, using her whole body and curling her mouth into a pout that hides a thousand dirty secrets. She seems off and weird in everything she’s in, and it’s completely affecting in a bizarre way.

Blair’s distinctive persona is on at full force in The Poker House, Lori Petty’s directorial debut, coming to DVD ($29.99) Aug. 18 (prebook July 21) from Phase 4 Films. In the film Blair plays a fictionalized version of Petty’s mother, Sarah, a boozy, drug-addicted woman with three children who runs a “house of ill repute,” with prostitutes and gambling, in small-town Iowa. Blair sways and slurs her way through the film, showing hardly a shred of concern for her daughters, even in the face of sexual abuse.

Selma Blair in The Poker House


I spoke to Blair about her tough role and what inspires her.

IndieFile: From where did you draw inspiration to play this role?

Blair: Not to be too simplistic, but I thought it was written in a really good, poetic and hateful way. We all have some horrific sides. And I am not saying this is my mother, but you draw things from people, or I do as an actress. Some of the mannerisms did come from my mother. I did copy some of her mannerisms to play an adult because I never do it! I’ve cultivated this weird world of adolescence in my career.

IndieFile: What was the hardest scene to film?

Blair: It was all super easy, except there’s a moment where I go into the bathroom after [the rape scene]. You feel so much for Jennifer (Lawrence, who plays Agnes, the fictionalized version of Petty) and she extends her arms to me and … I’m going on about what a pain in my ass she was. That was one of my more painful moments. I had to hold back from crying. She’s sitting in the tub, naked, crying to me … and I don’t think my character would be as effective [if she broke down], as she didn’t want to feel that.

IndieFile: What’s it like going back and forth between characters such as this and your role as Vi in Storytelling versus films such as the Hellboy movies?

Blair: I love it. I love both experiences. I love the scope and the expectation of big studio films, but the independent films you really kind of get left alone. … Most of these films are made out-of-pocket and there’s a lot of love and sacrifice that goes into it.

IndieFile: Speaking of which, are you working with Guillermo del Toro again soon on Hellboy or another project?

Blair: I wish I could say differently, but no, he is busy on The Hobbit and I am not in that, as much as I would love to work with Guillermo in any capacity again – I love that man and I love what he creates. I loved being in his vision for Hellboy, but for now it is completely on the backburner.

IndieFile: Do you think you’re a different actress on TV (“Kath & Kim,” “Zoe”) versus movies?

Blair: Yes. I think if maybe it were cable and there were a tone you were allowed to have, it would have the same kind of, I don’t know, spirit that comes through. … But I love the immediacy of TV. I don’t watch it much, but I appreciate it. It’s really hard work to make things look that phony in technicolor. That’s a real game that is really fascinating to me. Kim was a really sloppy, confident girl that was fun to play.

IndieFile: Did you do anything special for the “Kath & Kim” DVD?

Blair: I did a commentary for a few episodes. I hope that that show lives on, on home video, and that people enjoy it because there were some outrageous, silly moments, and when I tuned in, I really enjoyed it. I will not listen to myself on the commentary though.

IndieFile: Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel like you do a lot of difficult projects and a lot of difficult acting. In a film like Cruel Intentions, which is more on the Hollywood side of things, your role is smaller but still unforgettable. And I keep coming back to Storytelling and how awkward that must have been to play. Do you think you’re drawn to difficult roles?

Blair: I think I definitely am. I don’t know if it’s because no one else wants those roles. I love Storytelling. I love Todd Solondz’s rhythm and these silent awkward moments in the film. I am drawn to that. Parts of me wish I could be this really vibrant leading lady that can make something out of a really boring role. I’m sure I could do it, I’m not saying I suck, but I think my strength is in playing awkward, uncomfortable people who are really kind of ugly, who have real obvious weaknesses.

IndieFile: There are also a lot of difficult sexual issues at play in your roles. Is that also something that intrigues you as an actress?

Blair: I guess so. I guess I’m just drawn to the awkward moments. I think I just view it as part of life. I don’t view them as difficult roles. Those are the ones that are easier for me. It’s when I have to sit at a dinner scene and make a toast and be charming I think, how do people do this? I’m pretty in touch with the things that make people lie awake at night.
 

By: Billy Gil


14 Jul, 2009

IndieFile's Open

IndieFile begins today with the aim of putting independent DVD announcements and news from the indie film market in one place. We're looking for up-to-the-minute DVD and Blu-ray Disc announcements for independent films and cult classics, as well as anything people might be interested in knowing about indie film and film festivals as the news relates to home video. New Web video ventures, trailers for upcoming DVDs and interviews with filmmakers, actors and other industry players are all fair game. Send us your news, follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think!

By: Billy Gil